The last half decade has seen Hungarian developer NeocoreGames make a name for themselves in the action RPG genre. The success of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing led to not one, but two sequels, before they snapped up one of the many Warhammer 40,000 licenses out there to create Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr.
For their next game, though, they’re returning to the company’s real roots. Their earliest games mixed real-time tactics, role-playing, and grand strategy genres together in the two King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame games and it’s this historical fantasy setting that they’re returning to with King Arthur: Knight’s Tale… but with a twist.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale doesn’t follow the same blend of genre buzzwords as The Role-Playing Wargame, nor is it an action RPG, instead forging a different path for the company. This is a dark fantasy tactical RPG, similar in some ways to the XCOM series with turn-based combat, but with more RPG-like depth to each character’s growth through the campaign, deep loot tables, and with permadeath and other roguelite elements thrown in for good measure.
That’s not the twist, though, which comes in the story that Neocore have woven, turning the Arthurian legend on its head, quite literally. You play as the traditional villain of the tale, Sir Mordred, tasked with gathering knights to a new roundtable and venturing forth to battle all manner of fantastical beasts.
But where’s King Arthur? The game is actually set after the climactic Battle of Camlann between King Arthur and the infamous black knight, in which both were dealt a fatal blow and passed away… and yet they both still live. The magical island of Avalon is now beset by nightmarish enemies, with King Arthur somehow at the heart of them all. Now Sir Mordred must try to kill Arthur once more for the good of the realm.
The game will play out on multiple levels, with tactical RPG battling taking place on a grid-based battle map. You’ll have the pick of over 30 heroes, each of which is aligned with one of five classes. Success can depend on your ability to scout out an area, luring enemies into an ambush and take advantage of their weaknesses; with the aforementioned permadeath in mind, you’ll probably want to play cautiously. Thankfully you can heal injuries, curses and disease, but they will take time and sideline a particular hero.
Leading them as Sir Mordred and rebuilding Camelot poses some interesting questions of morality. Mordred was, obviously, the bad guy, but it will be up to you to chart his course through the campaign and pick which quests to send your heroes on. Will your decisions lean toward the tyranny that he was best known for? Or will he turn over a new leaf and become a righteous ruler that King Arthur might be proud of?
It’s going to be interesting to see how those elements come together, and we were only offered a glimpse of them at this time. The campaign will span twenty story missions, as you reclaim the kingdom from seven enemy factions and build up to defeating its ten bosses, but there will also be endgame modes and content to tackle after you’ve (presumably) rescued Arthur from his nightmarish fate. The permadeath and potential to simply run out of heroes adds a little extra spice to proceedings and could encourage multiple playthroughs.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is expected to release in Q1 2021, but Neocore are first holding a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in the hopes of building a small community of enthusiastic fans to help shape some of the finer details of their twist on the Arthurian legend. The Kickstarter is live today, leading to a backer beta in November, before launching on Steam early next year and then for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.